More Employees Bringing PCs to Work, Says Gartner

The number of personal notebooks being used as primary work PCs is rising, according to Gartner. While German enterprises are most open to the trend, in the United States, personal notebook use at work is expected to rise by 60 percent before 2012.

The number of enterprise employees using their own PCs at work is on the rise, according to an October report from Gartner, which said the trend has benefits for both employees and employers.
In a survey of 528 IT managers in organizations with 500-plus employees in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, Gartner found 10 percent of workers to be using their own notebooks as their primary work PCs - a number the companies reportedly expect to rise to 14 percent by mid 2010.
"Growing numbers of employees are asking to use personally owned notebooks for work and an increasing proportion of companies will meet these requests through employee-owned notebook programs, which define policies for usage, technical requirements and process for maintenance and support," said Meike Escherich, an analyst with Gartner, in a Dec. 7 statement on the report.
Gartner found that over the past two years, nine out of 10 companies have addressed the issue of employee-owned devices, with 48 percent prohibiting the use of employee-owned PCs entirely, and 43 percent setting up specific policies for their use.
Gartner found acceptance of the employee-owned devices to vary by both industries and countries. While manufacturing, wholesale and government verticals were less likely to embrace the idea, service companies such as those in insurance telecommunications were more likely to be game. In Germany, 60 percent of companies in the survey said they currently allow the use of employee-owned PCs, though only 30 percent of U.S. and U.K. companies said the same.
In all three countries, however, enterprises expect to see the trend heartily increase over the next 12 to 18 months. While U.K. companies are predicting a 15 percent increase over that time frame, German companies expect the number of employee-owned PCs to increase by 40 percent, while U.S. companies are looking at a possible 60 percent.
Enterprises have been slow to refresh aging PCs during the global recession, and the ailing economy is informing the trend.
"In the current climate of cost containment, large enterprises are exploring all possibilities offered by alternative client computing architectures and device [solutions], and that includes employee-owned PCs," said Gartner Analyst Annette Jump, in the statement.
Gartner reports that while the direct costs of a virtual machine on an employee-owned mobile PC are higher than for a company-provided one, the figures are "more than compensated for" by increased worker satisfaction and the potential for increased productivity. Consequently, it's in PC vendors' best interests, Gartner advised, to offer notebooks with features that address the multiple ways they're being used.
"PC vendors cannot afford to miss the phenomenon of employee-owned notebooks, and we advise them to create employee-purchase programs that not only include hardware devices but also services and support options for users," Jump said. "PC vendors selling to the enterprise and midsize business segments should create PC products that combine features of business and consumer PCs."
Escherich added that PC vendors should bundle offerings to specific markets, focused specifically at enterprise employees who use their own devices at work. "The hardware and software combination should included virtualization software, productivity applications and the consumers favorite applications," she said in the statement.